#OurTufts Features MD Student Winston Bell
“I wasn’t this person who spoke up prior to med school—I was more comfortable behind the scenes. But when I walked in, I saw a problem. Professors would say something in medicine was race related, and I would question it. Sometimes I would get a response, sometimes I wouldn’t. But I couldn’t let it go, because I could see the domino effect where something we’re being taught as first-years could affect a patient down the line.
My motivation comes from my family. My father, a cardiologist, is shocked by how powerful my voice is here, because he didn’t have the ability to speak up when he was going to medical school.
We have a racist history of medicine in the U.S. The OB-GYN field was built off the backs of enslaved women. The Tuskegee experiment wasn’t that long ago. Now, with COVID, it infuriates me when people say this virus doesn’t discriminate, that it hits everybody equally. Seeing the disparities in cases and treatment is really heartbreaking and frustrating; these are systemic issues. When I’m with people of color, I want to acknowledge these problems. How can we make sure every person is getting the same level of care?
To work on these problems, I went to talk to the dean, and now I’m on the Anti-Racism Task Force for the medical school. I worked on the curriculum for the first- and second-year students and made recommendations to faculty. I’m glad to be able to say a great amount of material has been changed. The Tufts chapter of the Student National Medical Association, which I’m part of, and affinity groups joined together to recommend pipeline programs, improvements to teaching spaces, and more diverse faculty—all to truly live that anti-racist mission.
I did a lot more in this past year than I planned. But even if I have to walk through a storm, I want to make it better for the people that come behind me.”
Winston Bell, MG18 (MBS), M23, aspiring pediatrician at Tufts University School of Medicine | (Photo: Winston Bell)
#OurTufts is a series of personal stories shared by members of the Tufts community.